Elderly missing persons getting found by AI in China

China’s use of facial recognition software to encourage good citizenship has drawn international criticism, but now the country is turning to the technology for help with a worthy healthcare cause: finding elderly people with dementia who’ve lost their way.

Asia Times reports that around half a million older Chinese, most of them mentally diminished, are reported missing by loved ones each year. That’s more than 1,300 people a day.

The new development was facilitated by the Chinese AI supplier Megvii Technology Limited, which created a system that can find reported missing persons and send reports to caregivers.

Megvii, which is better known as the Face++ company, helped find a missing elderly man as far back as 2016, according to Asia Times reporter Darlie Yiu.

Since then the system has proven useful to police as well as families with elderly members.

For example, last October, a man in his 70s who had Alzheimer’s disease turned up in a police station in Northwest China. “Using the Megvii’s smart city management system, the man was identified and sent home in less than an hour,” Yiu writes.